How To Celebrate New Year In Saint Petersburg

New Year in Saint Petersburg, Russia: how to celebrate the most loved Russian winter holiday
New Year in Saint Petersburg, Russia: how to celebrate the most loved Russian winter holiday

How to celebrate the New Year in Saint Petersburg? When do Russians celebrate New Year and Christmas?

If you celebrate New Year in Russia, you will never forget this experience. So let’s discover what’s so special in this winter holiday in Russia!

This post may contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through following the link, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

WHEN DO THE RUSSIANS CELEBRATE NEW YEAR?

New Year is a widely celebrated holiday in Russia. Many Russians consider this holiday even more exciting than a birthday. It is not surprising. New Year is a holiday for everyone — and everyone parties, receives gifts and has fun. The merry mood conquers the whole country!

In Russia, we celebrate New Year at the night between December 31 and January 1.

Preparations for New Year in Saint Petersburg begin early in December. Days are already short. But it is impossible to stay inside: the city looks so attractive!

The central part of Saint Petersburg is richly embellished. The streets glow in the dark due to kilometres of decorations. Highlighted bridges, palaces and squares sparkle with hundreds of lights. The city becomes a theatre scene for holidays.

Fountain of light by the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, Russia
Fountain of light near the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, Russia

WHAT IS THE WEATHER LIKE AT NEW YEAR IN SAINT PETERSBURG?

Winter in Saint Petersburg starts a little later than in other regions of Russia. Frosty temperatures are set by the beginning of December. The snow covers the streets and houses, and rivers begin to freeze. The average temperature in December and January is -5 — -10°С.

However, during the last ten years, Saint Petersburg had several warm New Year periods. Local weathermen call it a “European winter”. It means that the weather could be humid and rainy, with temperatures above zero.

Whatever the weather is, it is important to dress properly. Your clothes must be layered, windproof and waterproof. “Windproof” and “waterproof ” are the main qualities. That is why I advise you to opt for a good dawn coat (with a hood) instead of a fur coat.

The same rule applies to footwear. The boots must be insulated, waterproof and have a good grip.

January snowfall over the Neva River in Saint Petersburg
January snowfall over the Neva River in Saint Petersburg

WHAT TO DO BEFORE NEW YEAR IN SAINT PETERSBURG

New Year street decorations in Saint Petersburg
New Year street decorations in Saint Petersburg

— Enjoy New Year street decorations

By mid-December, Saint Petersburg is completely decorated for New Year. It is the time to put on warm clothes and to go outside.

Start your New Year tour at Palace Square. It is the main square of the city. It is also the place of the main city’s New Year tree. The Winter Palace, Alexander Column and the General Stuff Building seem to be perfect decorations for a good New Year photograph.

You will surely like light fountains by the Winter Palace and near the Admiralty. Gaze at the lavish Palace Embankment and come back to Nevsky Prospect.

Christmas Market at Manezhnaya Square
Christmas Market at Manezhnaya Square

— Catch festive vibes at New Year Market at Manezhnaya Square

The largest New Year and Christmas market in Saint Petersburg takes place at Manezhnaya Square. It is an outdoor market in the historical centre of the city.

Visitors will find traditional Russian gifts and souvenirs, clothes, and food made by manufacturers from different regions of Russia.

Christmas Market at Manezhnaya Square is also the place where you can taste a hot mulled wine or tea from a samovar, and enjoy artists singing and dancing on the stage.

Shop for handmade gifts and souvenirs at New Year markets

The end of December is the season of markets where local handcrafted sell their products. It is a good opportunity to find unique gifts and support indie artists. You will find local cheese and chocolate, handmade jewellery, home decor, and vintage stuff. I adore the atmosphere of those markets and always find there something outstanding.

The largest markets of handmade goods take place in:

  • Sevkabel Port (40, Kozhevennaya Street)
  • New Holland Island (2, Admiralty Channel Embankment)
  • Lutheran Church of Saint Anne (8B, Kirochnaya Street)
  • Nikolskiye Ryady (62, Sadovaya Street)
Ded Moroz race in Saint Petersburg
Ded Moroz race in Saint Petersburg
Photo credit: забегдедовморозов.рф

Participate in Ded Moroz race

Ded Moroz is the Russian colleague of Santa Claus. He is the symbol and the main wizard of the Russian New Year. “Ded Moroz” means “Grandfather Frost”.

At the end of December, you can witness an unusual race. About 5000 people dressed as Ded Moroz run a distance of 5 km. The itinerary goes through the historical centre of Saint Petersburg. It is the traditional “competition” for all who want to have fun. While Santa Claus delivers Coca-Cola, Ded Moroz goes in for sports.

You can participate in the running too. If you do not have any Ded Moroz costumes, you can borrow them. The organisers provide all necessary clothes: a jacket, a hat, trousers, a belt and a beard.

Participation price: ~10 USD. Start Location: Palace Square. More info (in Russian): забегдедовморозов.рф

SEE ALSO: check our event guide with the up-to-date list of events in Saint Petersburg

Frosty winter day in Saint Petersburg
Frosty winter day in Saint Petersburg

— Chase New Year mood in Saint Petersburg on a hop-on/hop-off bus

The weather in Saint Petersburg is capricious. Sometimes it is challenging to stay outdoors for a long time. In this case, you might want to explore Saint Petersburg on a hop-on/hop-off bus.

Red doubledeckers run in the historical centre of Saint Petersburg. They stop near the landmarks of the city: St Isaac’s Cathedral, Palace Square, Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood, Kazan Cathedral, etc. You can get on and off the bus whenever you want.

Check prices & itineraries here.

Ballet "The Nutcracker" in the Mikhailovsky Theatre.
Ballet “The Nutcracker” in the Mikhailovsky Theatre.
Photo credit: mikhailovskytheatre

— Watch “The Nutcracker” ballet in one of the best world theatres

Without a doubt, The Nutcracker is one of the most magical ballets of the New Year season. It is a story of a wooden doll who became a prince and found his princess. This tale takes us to the world of good and evil, jealousy and courage, magicians and fairies.

I would suggest watching The Nutcracker in the Mikhailovsky Theatre, one of the oldest Russian ballet and opera houses. Be sure to enjoy the costumes and plastique of the dancers, magical decorations and, of course, the interior of the Mikhailovsky Theatre.

Location: Mikhailovsky Theatre
1, Arts Square

Ticket price: 15-150 USD. Check timetables and ticket availability: tickets to the Mikhailovsky Theatre


HOW TO SPEND NEW YEAR’S NIGHT IN SAINT PETERSBURG

New Year’s night is the time of abundant food and fun parties. Usually, people start planning their parties and menus a long time before December 31.

If you plan to celebrate New Year in Saint Petersburg, you have to keep in mind two important things:

  1. Book everything in advance, at least 1-2 months before the holiday: accommodations, tickets, restaurant seats. Saint Petersburg is a popular travel destination for Russians and foreigners.
  2. Book accommodations in the centre of Saint Petersburg. Thus, you will be close to the main attractions. It will also allow you to avoid wasting money on the taxi (that is very expensive during the holidays).
New Year tree at Palace Square
New Year tree at Palace Square

— Celebrate New Year in Saint Petersburg at Palace Square

Palace Square is the main square of Saint Petersburg. Do you want to start a New Year in one of the most beautiful places in Europe? Then Palace Square is what you need!

On New Year’s Eve, the central steet of Saint Petersburg — Nevsky Prospect — turns into a pedestrian street. Thousands of locals and guests of the Northern capital come there for the biggest outdoor party. 

The main New Year tree stands on Palace Square. There also will be a scene for a holiday concert which begins at 11 p.m. It’s a kind of appetizer before the real fun begins. Don’t be shy and dance — moving will warm you up!

Pay attention:
— You can not bring alcohol with you. In Russia, it is forbidden to drink alcohol in public spaces (on the streets, in parks).
— On the entry to the square, visitors have to go through a metal detector and security check.
— Don’t be afraid of popular merrymaking. Just take your usual precautions, and you’ll be fine.

Then you can either stay on the Palace Square or stroll down Nevsky Prospect and visit Sennaya Square and taste pirozhki, pancakes, bagels and hot tea.

By 3 a.m., come back to Palace Embankment to watch the fireworks.

Public transport usually works all night long (however, rely on the metro).

— Celebrate New Year in a restaurant

If you do not feel like you are ready to spend a winter night outside, think of booking a seat in a restaurant.

Every restaurant, hotel or bar proposes a special New Year program. Usually, it includes a festive meal and a show.

New Year programs differ significantly. So do the prices. It is up to you what to choose: something cosy and relaxing or merry dancing with Snegurochka and flowing champagne. Anyway, expect at least to spend 150 USD per adult.

Important!
Book a table in a restaurant in advance. New Year offers appear at the beginning of November. Chances to find a free place in a restaurant during New Year’s Eve are low.

Just to give you an idea, here are some good places in the centre of Saint Petersburg:

  • La Vue Restaurant offers a special festive program and a delightful view of the New Year’s lights of Saint Petersburg.
    Price: 400+ USD.
  • Aquarelle: dancing, karaoke in the restaurant bar with access to the terrace overlooking the historic centre of Saint Petersburg. Price: 150-300 USD
  • Lounge Room: a lounge bar with world street food and loft and high-tech interiors. Price: 80-100 USD
  • Nebar, an iconic youth bar with bar dances and steam cocktails open until the early hours of the morning. Price: 80-100 USD.
  • Parusa na Kryshe (Sails of the Roof) offers Russian folk traditions and unrestrained fun from the heart, karaoke with the art group of the restaurant! Price: 80-100 USD

— Go on a cruise tour 

Cruise companies also have special New Year’s offers, like a 5-days round trip from Saint Petersburg on Princess Anastasia cruise liner. You will visit other European cities such as Riga, Tallinn, Stockholm, Helsinki and, of course, and have festive treats and shows during New Year’s Eve.

Admission ticket: 600+ USD (per cruise)

— Party with your Russian friends

If you have Russian friends, ask them to invite you (at least once in a lifetime) to spend New Year Eve with a Russian family. This is the best way to get acquainted with local traditions. It is a chance to taste traditional New Year dishes.


HOW TO CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS

Catholic Christmas on tDecember 25 is not celebrated in Russia. Russians celebrate Orthodox Christmas on January 7.

Christmas festivities begin in Saint Petersburg on January 7 . Concerts of church music, theatre performances and Christmas concerts take place everywhere. Traditionally, there are Christmas events at Peter and Paul Fortress, Ostrovsky Square, Yusupov Garden, Tavrichesky Garden and other city parks and squares.

I hope this guide to New Year in Saint Petersburg will help you planning your holidays. Whatever you choose, be sure to have fun, lots of champagne and gifts!